Life in the ICU

I am currently a sophomore at USC, majoring in Health Promotion and pursuing the premed track.

For the past week, I have been shadowing a group of residents, fellows, medical students, and attending doctors at the LAC+USC Hospital. I have been assigned to the MICU II team, which focuses mainly in the ICU. The ICU stands for Intensive-Care Unit and boy, is it intense.

Every morning at 8:30 am, I go to the Pulmonary Conference to watch presentations given by fellows or lectures given by doctors. I learn about new and old cases, which are presented in a “who-done-it”/detective style. I feel like I am in an episode of “House” and the attending doctors, like Dr. House, are always picking and criticizing the fellows and residents. It is actually quite enjoyable (not in any cruel manner) to watch the fellows being questioned and teased at by the elders because I realize that I will one day be in that position if I continue to stay pre-med. The doctors aren’t mean or cold to the fellows but they are quite strict and do demand good answers. After the conferences, I follow the head fellow of MICU II to the main hospital and make rounds with the team until 1pm.
The attending doctor of MICU II is Dr. Oren, an old man with a young personality. He speaks with a German accent though he is from Israel. His most inspiring words to me thus far are: “Don’t pursue medicine unless you cannot live without it.” I agree 100% with this statement and intend to continue my long trek to becoming a doctor. Even after watching my teammates work 34 + hours, being on call all day and night, live on coffee and expresso shots, I realized that this is really what I want to do. Whenever we send a patient to the floor or home, the relief and happiness is enough to compensate for the hardships encountered. Though there are still many patients who cannot be cured, who continue to suffer, and eventually die, I still feel that being able to save even 1 life has given my own life much more meaning.